Tuesday Tunes

So. Whitney Houston. This is belated, but I didn’t want to sour Valentine’s Day last week, or rush through the tribute she deserved. I think her death threw a spotlight on a fact I didn’t want to face; sooner or later, actors and musicians I grew up loving are going to die. Their deaths will not be as tragic to me or hit as close to home as a family member, but Whitney was a presence in my life through my early years, and her absence is weird now.

My mom played all of Whitney Houston’s albums in the house when I was growing up, and the late 80s and all of the 90s were Whitney’s best years. And when “The Bodyguard” came out, my parents rented it one night (how did my dad get suckered into that?) and I snuck out of bed and laid at the top of the stairs to watch it with them. It was the first R rated movie I ever saw. I was 6. I don’t remember a lot about the plot, but I remember thinking there was no way my parents expected me to sleep through it when Whitney’s voice was that loud and strong when she sang. When “Waiting to Exhale” came out a few years later, my mom played the soundtrack every morning while we were getting ready for school. I inadvertently know every word to almost every Whitney Houston song.

I was stunned when I heard she died. Our waitress told us at dinner the night it happened. The next day I put on a mix of songs while Boyfriend and I cleaned the house. Apparently, Whitney’s music transcended gender lines, because I totally caught him scrubbing the stovetop and singing along with “I’m Every Woman.” He’ll deny it, but it’s true.

Look, it’s not like Whitney Houston cured cancer, fought valiantly in a war, or penned a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that brought about world peace. Sure, thousands of people die every day in ways that aren’t self-inflicted, but just because Whitney was sort of a train wreck (thank you, Bobby Brown. exhibit A) near the end doesn’t make her death any less valid, or the loss of her talent any less sad. She had problems. But she also had one of the greatest voices of all time, and was the most Awarded Female Artist of all time. Say what you want about Michael Jackson, but he couldn’t hold a candle to her vocal capabilities. Whitney might not have been able to moonwalk across the stage in a fedora, but she could do sing.

This is the raw, isolated vocal track from her single “How Will I Know?” Someone obviously recognized how incredibly powerful it was and decided to include it on her first album, released in 1985. Those were the days before autotune was relied upon to make anyone sound like they could sing. She was also in her early 20s when she recorded it. This voice came out of a girl of 21.

R.I.P. Whitney. You’ll be missed. xo

10 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes

  1. This is a lovely tribute, Erin. I think part of what makes her death so tragic is that because of her addictions, her talent seems to have seeped away well before her life actually did. If there’s any consolation in her death it’s that her music is being played again and cherished by people like you and me (and your boyfriend, who you had to let get to India before you could *out* as being a Whitney fan…don’t think I didn’t notice). She was part of the fabric of my growing up, just like you, and it’s so sad that she’s gone too soon.

  2. I’m listening to the song while I comment and tears run down my face.

    What a beautiful tribute. Really beautiful. I feel exactly the same way as you about her voice, her talent and the loss. The reason people like Whitney are important is because they transcend age, gender, race etc. She touched millions with her voice and we all have our little stories.

    Btw, I love the story about you watching The Bodyguard. I have watched it probably near enough 20 times. In 1992, the release of the Bodyguard, I broke up with a long-term boyfriend in Paris and I cannot tell you how many times I cried to ‘I will always love you’.

    I actually watched all 3.45 hours of her funeral and think I cried throughout. It was really moving, touching and very authentic and (I know this sounds funny) but it helped me to come to terms with it. Listening to Kevin Costner tell intimate stories with a poignant ending, hear both Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys re-write their songs in honour of Whitney was a beautiful experience for me.

    What I take away from this tragedy is that we have one life and we need to find/create ourselves, discover our needs and passions, listen and honour them. Otherwise, our souls catch up with us. Sorry for being a little deep but thought this tribute warrants it.

    Whitney, you’ll indeed be missed. R.I.P

  3. I’m so sorry (not just for her, but for her friends and family) that it ended this way and watching her posthumous “success” just makes me so very sad.

    She should be here giving the young pretenders to the throne a run for their money. :(

  4. I have really enjoyed reading about how people all around the blogosphere remember Whitney and how she influenced them. Lovely tribute and I’m following you via blogger now!

  5. Beautifully written, Erin. (I’m imagining you at the top of the stairs as you steal a peek of The Bodygaurd.) I like this version of How Will I know; It’s very raw. It seems quite clear that all of us here will remember Whitney for her song and voice, and not the tragic, troubling parts of her life. As it should be.

    The argument over whether the New Jersey flag should be raised at half mast or media coverage of Bobby Brown abruptly leaving the funeral service is just noise.

    PS~I love what Tina had to add.

  6. Oh the a cappella version gave me goosebumps. I can’t believe that the album it was on is from ’85, I was only ten back then…R.I.P. Whitney!

  7. I agree wholeheartedly! It is still sad even when a self destructive person dies, for the sake of knowing things could have been better. :( As a kid who wanted to be a singer when I was growing up, I LOVED me some Whitney. We played our Preachers Wife soundtrack over and over and over! Miss your voice already, Whitney boo.

  8. Eek I’m really sorry but I really don’t like all that warbly power ballady stuff at all! Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis. Not my sort of thing at all. But Whitney did have an amazing voice and think it’s awful what happened to her. Bobbi Brown must be persona non grata in the US now becuase wasn’t she fine till she met him?

    For you guys this must be like when Amy Winehouse died over here. It was very sad.

    I did quite like the Bodyguard though, she was awesome in that.

    On Sunday I went to see my mum and give her my old laptop and apple tv (omg how much does she love that apple tv???) and I was showing her how to use it and said we need to download a song to check it’s all working. She very sheepishly said she’d quite like ‘I will always love you’. I was shocked, my mum is all about the opera and the ballet etc. It was so funny, she’s was really embarrassed to ask for it! Bless.

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